I saw this question pop up on a forum and I know every PHP developer has their own reasons, it made me think of why I initially picked PHP way back in the early 2000’s when v4.3 was king.

It all started when my family hired a web developer to create a website for their motorcycle dealership. Everyone was moving to the web, and we didn’t want to be left behind. We ended up hiring a local guy, and a few months later a new website was delivered that was built entirely with Microsoft Front-page. He sat with me for an hour or so and showed me the basics on how to update it, took his check, and then went on his merry way.

Flash forward about two months, and I was spending half my day on Front-page forums trying to figure out the tool and how to make cool things. I loved it! Eventually, though I was sick and tired of Front-page, the extensions kept breaking, and every time it was a nightmare to fix.

This led me to a crossroads. I wanted to remake the site so it was dynamic and so we could quickly add new inventory. The two languages I heard was best for this was either ASP or PHP. To a newbie, they both seemed like greek, but PHP hosting was cheaper, so that is the direction I went.

With the language chosen, I started reading everything I could and tinkering, but it didn’t “click” I struggled more than I’d like admin with understanding the relationship between PHP, MySQL, and Apache. Keep in mind back then I had zero tech friends and nobody local I could even ask. It was trial and error from tutorials and forums.

What I ended up realizing is the part I struggled with was that I couldn’t actually see the relationship between all these tools. Around this time I tried Dreamweaver, and it helped tremendously because it was all basically integrated into a single app.

As I compare then to today the training material now is leaps and bounds better than we what we had. Yes, web development is way more complicated today, but everything from tutorials, to training videos, to even open source apps. Everything is better explained than back then.

So to finally answer the question, “What makes PHP popular?”, For me, it was cheaper hosting, and once I grasped the basics, I never left the community. If it works, embrace it.

3 thoughts on “ What Makes PHP Popular? ”

  1. I have a pretty similar story about why I went to PHP. We hired a web design firm to build a CRM for photographers and they quoted us $10,000 with a 6-month timeframe. We gave them $5,000 and they began the project. Well, a year later they had one page that wasn’t even functional, lol. So we canceled the contract with them, got a full refund and I decided to learn to programme myself. In the beginning, I was super confused and had no idea where to start. After doing some research I decided on PHP, no real reason except it could do what I wanted it to. 4 years later and after many failures, I have built the Essential Studio Manager which is a CRM for photographers. I still to this day have a hard time grasping certain concepts, but I am able to make things work.

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    1. Thanks for sharing! I know in the tech world four years feels like forever but starting from scratch I think that’s pretty good. In my first four years that I didn’t mention I spent a ton of time reverse engineering PHP apps and software and that helped me tremendously. With everything moving to SaaS I’m afraid that might be a lost option.

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      1. 4 years seems like an eternity. One of my biggest drawbacks is doubt. Luckily, I have an awesome wife that has helped me be persistent with learning code. I recently got rid of my tv and have taken on reading, lol. I try and read as much as possible about programming and not just PHP but anything pertaining to programming to try and broaden my knowledge on the subject.

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